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His Grace is napping now, please don't interrupt

By Diogenes (articles ) | Apr 09, 2003

A poll of 1,482 Catholic priests in Britain indicates widespread disagreement with the Church's moral teaching -- surprising, perhaps, to someone recently awakened from a 40-year coma, but to no one else. 43% of the respondents, e.g., actively oppose the orthodox teaching on contraception, and another 19% are "unsure" whether they support it. We are told, utterly predictably, "a spokesman for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales questioned the methodology of the survey," and that he maintained, "'The statistical findings of this book must be treated with great caution and cannot be seen as a true reflection of the current beliefs of priests in England and Wales.'"

This makes no sense whatever. If the findings are wrong, then you don't treat them "with great caution," you reject them full stop. The spokesman doesn't say this (the libel laws in England have serious teeth to them), which prompts the question, if the stats don't give the true picture, do they err by overstating the problem or understating it?

It makes no difference. If the truth mattered to someone, his first cry wouldn't be "defective methodology!" He'd get on the phone, ask tough questions, and start taking names -- hoping the numbers were wrong, but understanding the need to act swiftly and decisively. If a poll claimed to show that 43% of surgeons opposed the board-sanctioned standards of antisepsis, would the director of the National Health Service sleepily dismiss the numbers and return to Oprah?

Probably not, but then surgery is sometimes a life-and-death matter.

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